Police Finally Solve 'Baby Michael' Case 21 Years After One-Day-Old was Found in Trash Bag on Side of Road
Cumberland County Sheriff's Office

Using DNA evidence, investigators managed to track down 54-year-old Deborah Riddle O'Conner; after interviewing her she confessed to being the mother of the child, who was tossed out of a moving car two decades ago.

North Carolina police believe they have finally solved a 21-year-old cold case.

"Baby Michael" was a one-day-old infant whose body was found in a plastic bag on the side of the road, on March 3, 1999.

On Thursday Cumberland County detectives said they found the boy's killer — who also happens to be his mother.

Using DNA evidence, investigators managed to track down 54-year-old Deborah Riddle O'Conner; after interviewing her she confessed to being the mother of the child, who was tossed out of a moving car two decades ago.

The baby was less than 24 hours old when he died of blunt force trauma. He was discovered on Canady Pond Road, with his umbilical cord still attached and the placenta in the bag with him; the soldier who found him initially thought he was a discarded doll.

Police issued an appeal for information, but no one ever came forward.

Named Michael after the Patron Saint of Law Enforcement Officers, he was laid to rest in a church cemetery. The Sheriff's office held a memorial for him every year on March 3.

The trail went cold until recently, when investigators sent DNA from the evidence to Bode Technology, a Virginia firm that specializes in forensic genealogy services. While O'Conner herself wasn't in the database, the DNA was linked to someone else in the crime database, which in turn led to the mother.

"I believe she knew this day was probably coming," Lt. Adam Farnham said at press conference Friday morning, per WRAL.

Sheriff Ennis Wright, who was still just a patrol officer the night Michael was found, said it was "a sad day."

"This event, what happened, is going to affect a lot of folks. It's going to affect two families," he said. "In life, a lot of times we have options. We have choices we can make, and you hope that sometimes you would make the right choice. But in this situation, the right choice wasn't made."

DNA, he said has freed folks, and has convicted folks.

"This was something personal to this sheriff's office – very personal – and [investigators] weren't going to stop until we got it solved," he said. "What affects law enforcement is [crimes against] the young and the elderly because a lot of those folks can't defend themselves. We're here to defend them."

O'Conner, who has other adult children, was charged with first degree murder.

She is being held without bond and is due to appear in court on Friday — ten days ahead of what would have been her son's 21st birthday.

He husband — whom she wed ten years ago — told WSOC that he had no idea about the case until deputies showed up.

"I've had spells. I've had spells crying," he said. "I haven't slept all night."

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